The New Department of Health Policy and Management: A Look Back at the History
The announcement in March 2015 of a new Department of Health Policy and Management marks the beginning of a new era, one that better positions Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) to conduct multidisciplinary research that addresses significant health challenges and prepares graduates for a rapidly changing landscape of health care delivery. The Department of Health Policy and Management represents the re-unification of the Department of Health Policy and Department of Health Services Management and Leadership which had been together in a single department until 2002 when the school decided to separate the two so that each could grow and establish a stronger, separate identity. What follows is a brief look back at the history of health policy and health management programs at the George Washington University.
The Department of Health Policy
The beginning of what would ultimately become a top health policy program in the country starts in 1990 with the launch of the Center for Health Services Research and Policy (CHSRP), which was part of the GW Medical Center. CHSRP conducted research and policy analysis under the leadership of Director Sara Rosenbaum, JD, who arrived at GW in 1992 and went on to become CHSRP’s director in 1996. The next year, GW chartered the School of Public Health and Health Services (now Milken Institute SPH) and put the CHSRP and health policy programs together with health management programs that came from the GW School of Business to create a unified department called the Department of Health Services Management and Policy.
The next milestone came in July 2002 when the school wanted to carve out a separate health policy department in order to continue to grow the program. Professor Rosenbaum was made the interim chair and within a year she had been named as the new chair, developing the health policy and law program as one of the top training and academic research sites in the United States.
In 2011 Professor Rosenbaum decided to focus her efforts on investigating health policy challenges of the day including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The school launched a national search for a new chair and in June of that year, Paula Lantz, PhD, was appointed as the new chair. Under her leadership, the Department of Health Policy continued on its trajectory of expanding its expertise as national leader in the field of health policy, both in training students and in developing real-world solutions for public health problems.
The Department of Health Services Management and Leadership
The history of the Health Services Management and Leadership program goes back to the year 1958 when Frederick H. Gibbs established the fledgling department, which was called the Department of Health Care Administration, by launching a two-step master’s degree program that included a full year of on-site training at a hospital. Back then the Department of Health Care Administration was part of the GW’s School of Business but was brought into the School of Public Health and Health Services when the school was chartered in 1997. From 1997 until 2002, the department was combined with the Department of Health Policy and together they made up the Department of Health Services Management and Policy.
Change and transition was a hallmark of that time and in 2002 the decision was made to split the two departments to allow each to firmly establish an identity and branding. In 2002, the Department of Health Services Management and Leadership (HSML) was created and Robert Burke, PhD, was appointed as the chair. Under Professor Burke’s leadership, the department increased student recruitment efforts, supported faculty research projects and reconnected with more than 3,000 alumni.
The Department of Health Policy and Management: Best of Two Worlds
March 17, 2015 marked the culmination of the transition period with the announcement of the newly merged Department of Health Policy and Management. After a successful period operating as separate entities, and in growing faculty, research and educational capacity, the two departments once again joined together in a union that is expected to reap many significant benefits for faculty and students. The unified department will be able to accelerate the faculty’s ability to conduct interdisciplinary research on topics that are of critical importance to both fields. Additionally, the newly merged department will be better positioned to train students to become leaders in public and private health sector organizations.